In mid-2014 I wrote a piece about Fable Mountain Vineyards, the Tulbagh estate (formerly Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards) bought in 2010 by Charles Banks’s Terroir Capital, and for which its new owner had great ambitions. I concluded thus:
“Already there’s enough happening here to justify Charles Banks’s insightful investment, but I am full of hungry curiosity – more than with almost any other winery I can think of – to see what is going to happen at Fable over the next decade, given the progress already made. It could well be, as Banks hopes, stunning.”
I wrote as a caption to this photo of winemaker Rebecca Tanner and viticulturist Paul Nicholls that they were “serenely in control”, which now seems ironically inappropriate. For it came as a surprise, even something of a shock, a few weeks back when I was told by someone a few stages removed (these things inevitably get around) that Rebecca and Paul had been dismissed, more or less in the middle of the harvest. My surprise (nothing quite like the surprise of the people involved, presumably, but still) was because it had seemed to me that the team had been very successful. Certainly their wines have been extremely good, and improving.
I asked Rebecca and Paul about it, but they were obliged by terms of the emerging agreement between them and the owners to make no comment. So I approached Charles Banks, and asked him, and if the dismissal implied some large new plans for Fable. His reply was brief and didn’t tell me much: “Tim, no major change as far as what we expect from Fable in the future. We are reworking the team to more effectively represent Fable and the Terroir family.” He added that Paul and Rebecca “are headed back to Aus[tralia] w[ith] their kids”.
That’s it. We’ll just have to wish Paul and Rebecca well, and see who is brought in to replace them. The “hungry curiosity” I mentioned having about Fable’s future is still unsatisfied, though I can’t say that I feel quite as warmly about the enterprise right now.